***NEW**Jillian didn’t actually want to jump out of the plane at all. She was in the habit of doing whatever her BFF wanted to do, though, so when Cheyenne jumped, Jillian jumped … right into a vortex that took her to another world. That was totally bizarre.
Damon, king of the dragon clan, had been looking for something to cheer up his dear friend, Lucien. And what better than a gift of the gods? A beautiful outworlder that just fell right into his arms?
Well, after he’d chased her down.
The big problem, though, was that he got attached to her himself just about the time she won Lucien over.
VALE OF SHADOWS:
FOREST OF DARKNESS
Jillian was beyond terrified even before they left the ground.
It wasn’t an unusual state for her to be in when her BFF Cheyenne had an idea—because the two of them were diametric opposites in almost every way.
Cheyenne was a daredevil and thought she’d found her ‘soul mate’ when they’d met in middle school, when what she’d actually found was a wannabe—slave, willing to do anything she wanted just to bask in the reflected light from her idol.
Jillian wanted to be everything that Cheyenne was—instead of what she actually was—a mouse. She’d been following her friend around, emulating Cheyenne in her own awkward way ever since, trying to keep up, and mostly terrified or horrified by Cheyenne’s antics.
But that was why she found herself trying to keep from wetting her pants while she waited to jump out of a perfectly good airplane.
Today was to be their first solo jump.
Jillian thought she might have soiled her britches if her sphincter hadn’t been clenched so tightly with terror you couldn’t have driven a thumb tack into it with a sledge hammer.
But when Cheyenne got up and carefully made her way to the door to wait for the signal to jump, Jillian doggedly followed, feeling as if her legs weren’t her own, feeling almost as if her brain wasn’t her own.
As they both stood at the open doorway, trying not to get sucked out before the time to jump arrived, Jillian noticed there was something really weird happening to the sky below them—or rather the clouds. The bright, sunny day just suddenly ‘wasn’t’ and instead there were clouds gathering—thick, fluffy white clouds that looked like a blanket of cotton balls.
As the pilot called out a ‘get set’ because they were approaching the target jump point, Jillian noticed that the fluffy white clouds had a strange tinge of yellow and … well almost a neon green seeping into them—like someone had spilled a colored beverage that was being soaked up.
That was when she first noticed the clouds were starting to spin—the swirl of the new colors that ‘bled’ into the clouds in streaks.
“Looks like the weather is closing in. Are you sure we should jump?” she bellowed at Cheyenne over the roaring noise of the plane engine and the wind, struggling to subdue the sense of relief at the reprieve closing in on her.
“It’s weird looking alright, but it’s just clouds. There’s no severe weather expected for this area.”
“Maybe not, but it looks like it’s coming anyway!” Jillian bellowed.
Only to be drowned out by the pilot’s bellow to jump.
How Cheyenne heard him over her when she was closer, Jillian was damned if she could figure out, but Cheyenne let out a whoop of excitement and leapt from the plane.
Jillian stared at her in horrified dismay as she quickly began to shrink from sight, stared at the clouds that began to form a tighter and tighter funnel.
“Jump or get back in your seat!” the pilot bellowed. “I need to get out of here.”
Jillian’s legs followed his command even though her brain was definitely against it.
Or maybe it was just her following Cheyenne with blind devotion?
She didn’t know, but it did flash through her mind that she just couldn’t leave Cheyenne to jump alone, and she jumped directly behind Cheyenne.
And then lost sight of her almost immediately as the clouds engulfed her. In the space of a few heartbeats, she found herself swallowed up—and still with no sight of Cheyenne. Worry for Cheyenne switched to terror for her own circumstances when she felt the pull of the wind and realized she’d begun to spin with the vortex.
She couldn’t open her parachute! There was no telling what the wind would do to it—maybe wrap it around her!
But if she didn’t open her chute and she was too close to the ground when she emerged—if she emerged—she was going to be nothing but a greasy spot when she landed.
She couldn’t even call for Cheyenne. If she opened her mouth, she might never get it closed again and her lips would be stretched over her head.
Vale of Shadows: Forest of Darkness
Published: September 2021
Word Count: 22,126
Available formats: Epub, PDF, RTF, HTML, Mobipocket (.prc)
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